One might argue that Thiel Audio's 3-series loudspeakers are the audio equivalents of BMW's 3-series sports cars: relatively affordable, but 100% about performance. Thiel has made bigger, more expensive loudspeakers than the 3s, as well as smaller, less expensive modelsbut the iconic Thiels are the 3s.
Naim Audio's Naim Classics label has begun releasing recordings in Dual Pack format that contains both a Red-Book CD and 24-bit/88.2kHz audio DVD for $24.95. The exclusive US distributor of Naim's high resolution titles will be www.premieremusic.net.
Meridian Audio Ltd. announced at 4pm December 5 that it had acquired media server manufacturer Sooloos LLC. "Basically, it comes from [Meridian founder] Bob Stuart's appreciation of great industrial design and innovative technologies," said Meridian's Chief Marketing Officer Graeme Taylor. "That combination is what Meridian has always attempted to offer and when Bob saw Sooloos' products, he realized that Peter Wellikoff [COO], Enno Vandermeer [CEO], and Danny Dulai [CTO] shared those values. Over time, it became obvious that, between what we shared and what we each could offer each other, the acquisition made tremendous sense."
My favorite audio product of 2008 isn't precisely an audio productit's a home theater in a box. I'm referring to Polk's lovely SurroundBar 360, which sells for $1200 and gives you a low-profile 48" "sound bar" and a base station, which includes an optical disc player, DSP processing, and an AM/FM tuner. The base station, of course, contains all the amplification the sound bar requires. Also included is a special umbilical to connect the two piecesand, in a savvy little detail that tells you a great deal about how much thought has gone into the SurroundBar 360, the connectors on that cable cannot be connected "wrong."
You know me. I'm not perzackly an audio slut, but I am easy. When Audio Advisor's Wayne Schuurman called me to pitch the Vincent KHV-1pre tube-transistor headphone amplifier, he pretty much had me at "tube" and "headphone." But I wasn't familiar with Vincent Audio.
When Audio Advisor's Wayne Schuurman contacted me about reviewing the Vincent Audio KHV-1pre headphone amplifier, I felt confident that I had everything I needed to handle the task, owning, as I do, both the AKG K701 and Sennheiser HD-650 headphones, which have long been my references. That oughta get 'er done, I thought.
I can't think of a product that was as eagerly anticipated as was Ayre's KX-R preamplifier ($18,500). Following in the footsteps of Ayre's MX-R monoblock amplifier, a Stereophile2007 Product of the Year, and milled, like the MX-R, from a 75-lb billet of aluminum, the KX-R also shares with its monoblock stablemate the Ayre ethos of zero feedback and fully balanced operation. But what really caused the buzz was the declaration by Ayre founder and chief designer Charles Hansen that the KX-R, with its use of a technology he calls Variable Gain Transconductance (VGT) to control the volume, would set new standards for signal/noise ratio.
I first encountered Avalon Acoustics' loudspeakers about 20 years ago. The hi-fi shop I worked for sold Jeff Rowland Design Group electronics, and Jeff Rowland insisted that no loudspeaker better showcased his electronics than the Avalons. Rowland sent us a pair of Ascents, and we were startled by their gem-like, faceted cabinets and remarkable soundstaging. As we packed them up to return them to Colorado, I remember thinking, I could live with these speakers.
Last December, when Wadia Digital announced that it was releasing an iPod docking cradle that could access the digital signal before it had passed through the player's own D/A converter, many audiopundits were surprised. I was disbelieving, and nearly told Wadia's John Schaffer that he was shining me on. After all, Apple has tiptoed around the whole issue of consumers being able to digitally copy their iTunes files, going so far as to wrap its iTunes Music Store files in digital rights management (DRM) code.